Some of the Abe Cabinet members remain ambiguous about their possible visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on August 15. Except for one who will be on an overseas trip that day, the rest have not yet relayed their final decisions. In less than a week, the world will commemorate the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the Second World War.
However, August 15 is more than just remembering Japan’s loss in the Pacific Region. The date holds a solemn observance when Japanese people visit the Yasukuni Shrine, home of those who died in the war including those convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) of war crimes. But the attention is not directed on the solemn ceremony but rather on who’s coming and who’s not among the cabinet members. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that they will “refrain from saying which members of the Cabinet will or won’t go, or who can or can’t go as private individuals.” However, some have already made statements, giving hints should their presence be expected at the shrine. Only Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura gave a certain respond as his overseas trip the following week will keep him from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15.
Finance Minister Taro Aso stated that he had “already gone this year” to the shrine, referring to his spring visit with three other cabinet members. Tomomi Inada, Minister of State for Administrative Reform, believes it’s “acceptable to show gratitude and respect toward those who gave their lives for their country” and that she will make a decision appropriate to her current position. Minister of State for Reconstruction Takumi Nemoto said he already made a visit to the shrine this summer although he did not disclose when.
As for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP chief said that he will not make a visit on August 15. Abe’s visit, or lack thereof, has been the most closely watched not just by the media but also the international community especially China and South Korea. The latter had already expressed its opposition to cabinet members’ visit. China, on the other hand, said it will never accept such moves. Both neighbours were under the Imperial Japanese rule and suffered from their militarism and so for them, a visit to the shrine is an assertive expression of Japan’s denial of its past or a glorification of their militarism.
[via The Wall Street Journal]